Tuesday, September 2, 2014

new school year

The boys are beginning 8th (Oliver) and 10th (Henry) this year.  Oliver didn't have a whole lot of positives to share when he returned home after his first day, Henry was the opposite.  Funny how they can be so different in attitudes and view points, yet are the product of the same household/child-rearing.  Guess it really does go to show that they're individuals in every sense of the word!

I'm sure they'll both have great success this year and get through the rough bumps of the first week of school ~ thankful that it's only 4 short days too!

Henry said this morning that the thing he was looking forward to the most was a nap after school.  Ha!  All those lazy summer days will take a while to work out of his system.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

Oliver was challenged by a friend to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge...  his brother was more than happy to help him out!  Whatever would we have done had this challenge began in the winter months, right?  As it worked out, the sun was shining and Oliver only shivered slightly.

While Oliver doesn't have a Facebook account to share his video, he apparently did so through his Instagram account.

A former coworker of mine, Ken, was recently diagnosed with ALS.  He's been on my mind and in my prayers since this total "awareness and donation" campaign began this summer.  I've told the boys about the disease and also sat down as a family to watch Pete Frates story so they understood where the ice bucket challenge started.  Such a horrible disease, but it can be managed as I've seen a few friends who have family members with it -- who has lived 17 years after diagnosis and is still thriving - so much so that his family helped HIM do the ice bucket challenge.  It brought goosebumps to my arms and a tear to my eye.  Bless all of you who are living with or caring for someone who has ALS.

Don't ever doubt the power of social media!
Grab a bucket and challenge a friend today!

Keep up the challenges and donations!  


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Camp Wapo 2014

Every year, toward the end of summer, the boys head off to Camp Wapo (on Lake Wapogasset) in Amery, Wisconsin.  Anticipation drips from their faces and the discussion takes a hurried pace as they pack the weekend before camp.  "Mom, we don't have enough bug spray!  Mom, I don't want to bring a sleeping bag this year, I get too hot.  Can I just bring sheets?"

Each day has a theme to go along with the week of camp as well.  This year is no different!  There are servant days, high ropes courses, horseback riding.  I would encourage anyone who has children in the area to consider sending their kids to Camp Wapo. You don't even have to be part of a given church to attend, just the greater desire to be part of something bigger than you.  Bring a friend, join the fun.

The games, the canteen (filled with money from Mom & Dad), the swimming, the food, the friends, Agape, Bible study, and campfires, worship & music!  I think they'd be hard pressed to tell you what they love most about their week at camp.

playing 9 square

Henry is taking part in TIM Team this year.  He is joined by other senior high youth and will hopefully find a way to continue being a part of this wonderful experience next year.  Henry will be confirmed on October 26 after three years of confirmation studies.
TIM Team is a leadership development opportunity for Senior High youth. TIM teamers commit to one year of service as leaders in their home congregations working primarily with younger youth. TIM Teamers will spend time at both Ox Lake and Wapo during the 6 day experience. TIM Teamers will have lodging at Ox Lake, as well as experiencing the Low / High Ropes Challenge Course. During the week, much of each day is spent at Wapo interfacing and participating as leaders amongst the younger youth from their congregation.

It does a Mother's heart good to see the social media updates posted by both the camp staff and Calvary youth staff.  Don't get me wrong, we are enjoying the peace and quiet around 3513, but JP actually said that the house was too quiet this week.  Yes, we miss the boys, but wouldn't let them miss this experience for anything!  The boys have been going every year since third grade.

Oliver is headed into 8th grade next month and his second year of confirmation.  He has grown to love WNL and Bible study with a small peer group.  Joining together with his friends above, I am sure that not much slumber has happened in their little cabins in the woods!

Selfie with Youth Director Tim

waiting in line to take the "swim test" that gets you a band for the deep water (Henry, far left)

staying hydrated & happy smiles for these TIM Teamers

Cannot wait to hear their stories of camp when they get home tomorrow!  I'm sure they will both be exhausted, full of bug bites, but with happy smiles of another successful year at camp.

A circle of Calvary youth, gathered in a field, bonding...
This is what camp memories are made of! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Parenting a Teenager

So, if we're friends on social media, you may have witnessed a little pity party by me this week.  Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself as a parent.  Truth of the matter is, I've been here before...  and while I thought it was just circumstances surrounding raising my eldest child (with a former ex), it turns out...  it was just about raising a TEENAGER.  Period.  And although I thought that I had clearly learned something from raising the first one, I'm not sure there's a manual to get through each year of each subsequent teen.  If I''m counting, I've got at least 5-7 more years of this ahead of me!

Many friends reached out when I asked for a virtual hug yesterday...  for that I am grateful.  thank you!!

I know I am not alone, regardless of circumstance or issue.  It takes a village.  We learn from one another and share in sorrows in successes, right?

And then a friend sent me an article that made it all sink in.  Reality.  In someone else's words.  I'm not alone (I knew this) in these struggles.  But to read it, and see a recent poll with findings on the subject...  well, that just opens up the world of possibilities once again.  A few excerpts below resonated with me in a way that calmed my racing heart.  I am not alone.  It's not me (or us) who are failing as parents.  Not even the collective we have the answers to raising a teenager.

"Once, I controlled the big decisions in their life," says Zeise, 39, who lives in Columbia, S.C. "Now they make decisions that can have drastic consequences. I feel like I am running out of time to teach them the important lessons they need," she writes.

How do we know we're teaching them the lessons that will stick?  If they're not responding or communicating, can we only assume?  hope?  Letting them gain wings of independence is scary.

This constant questioning and challenging can be stressful for parents, of course, but Palmiter says it's actually a healthy part of growing up, and it often means parents are doing everything right. 
And there were many late nights for Myers because, like many parents, she just couldn't fall asleep until she knew Kamron was safely home.

Sleep?  Don't' even get me started.  My FitBit can attest to the fact that I am never going to be one of those parents who can fall off into blissful sleep while their child isn't under rooftop.  My other half has absolutely no problem with that...  guess we're just wired differently?  or is it a feature of a Mom?  I don't know.  Try as I might, even with the occasional TylenolPM {don't judge}, I still cannot sleep until I know he's somewhere safe or in bed.

What's the right way to parent?  Who is to say there is a right or wrong way to a parenting style?  What's your parenting style?  Haven't we all be raised by someone(s) who have done it right, or needed some help, and haven't we taken bits and pieces of our own upbringing to model what WE will do to raise the next generation?!  I'm doing my best to find the right way to raise my children, our children, the future generation of boys.  I believe that my parenting style falls somewhere between the right-hand side of this grid.

Many psychologists say the best parents can do is making sure they have instilled positive values in their children and then just hope for the best.
hope?    Many psychologists [with many degrees] don't offer any other advice?  Sure they do. A plethora of "how to" books are available to read, appointments with aforementioned psychologists can be made, and apparently a sprinkle of hope for good measure doesn't hurt either.

Bottom line - some measurement of success - how do we know we've instilled positive values?   Appropriate positive feedback from other parents, teachers and friends who know our children, right? Grades on report cards.  Success in activities and sports.  Bonded friendships with like-minded kids in their peer groups.  I would surely hope that we're doing something right.  At least I believe that we have done just that with maboys still in our care.  So I can take a little respite and breathe a sigh of relief on the feedback received to-date.

As for dealing with their own stress, Palmiter suggests parents seek support from other parents [emphasis mine], not just about their concerns but also about decisions. He also promotes special "one on one" time with your teenager. This means "being there" completely, cellphone unplugged, talking with your teen or observing them do an activity they enjoy like drawing, shooting basketball or playing an instrument. Just one hour a week of this special time can repair major differences, Palmiter says, and bring much-needed calm to households with teens.
Many girlfriends can attest to the fact that I have sought their support and advice. Many times over the years. I've even been able to advise on some occasions as well, I guess. We're there for one another, right? In this together?  Case in point [pity party on F@cebook] and asking for help, albeit vague, to just get through another day without completly losing it.  Sometimes that is just what I need. A collective sigh of relief.  A knowing smile or hug.  Mix in some room for coffee or a glass of wine while seeking aforementioned support...  occasionally, yes, and I hope that my kids don't come out of this forray into parenting all screwed up.  My one goal.  Well, a parenting through the teenage years goal anyway.

I've also done my best to spend one on one time with each of my boys.  I take advantage of time in the car, even on short trips, to ask about their day.  I take them to special events.  I am seeking to instill positive parenting, independence and growth, every step of the way.

©shel silverstein
©shel silverstein

So...  here I am.
A new day.
Hanging onto
the knot
at the
of my rope
tied yesterday;
I've climbed
 halfway back up,
with the support of friends
who care...
and I boldly leap
 another evening
of parenting my teens!

Now off to the 4th lacrosse game of the week.